A Journey to Massage, Spa, Health and Wellness
It was in the early months of 2000. I have been coughing for the past one month but have no signs and symptoms of having tuberculosis or pneumonia aside from consistent cough and a painful back. I just returned to my position working as a travel and timeshare sales and marketing executive for the past three years and I was thinking that maybe it was due to the very cold temperature inside the hotel. Everyday it was like winter inside the presentation area and because all of our directors were Westerners, we were stuck in a position where all of us have to adjust to their preferences in temperature and corporate culture. I can no longer ignore what I was feeling so I went straight to a pulmonologist and decided to submit myself to an examination. Medical history was taken and the specialist decided to have my sputum and X-ray checked just in case. Both results were normal except that I have dextro-scoliosis for which the pulmonologist referred me to another specialist- this time an orthopedic doctor who told me that my condition cannot be helped any other means except by surgery. Feeling dismayed that medicine cannot help me with my condition, I sought also the help of my friend who was a physical/occupational therapist and yes, she verified that the only solution to scoliosis is surgery. But I can also help myself not to make it worse, she said. She gave me exercise movements to be done everyday so my condition will not worsen. So, reluctantly I have accepted my condition. While I was searching online for a cure, I found that massage can alleviate symptoms so I have tried it and it helped ease my back pains. So, I started to look at massage therapy in a different context, I started to look for alternative medicine as a career. I was not able to find a medical degree leading to a doctorate in Alternative Medicine but I found out that there is such thing as Licensure for Massage Therapist. This was my first step in my journey to massage, spa, beauty, health and wellness. From that time forth, the rest was history.
Two years thereafter, I have been feeling weak and sick. I am having difficulty breathing whenever I walk or come up and down the stairs. Even if it’s just some light work, I get tired easily. I feel fatigued almost all of the time, I have chest pains and shortness of breath. Being someone from the medical background, I sought medical help immediately. The internal medical physician told me to seek the professional help of a cardiologist. I thought to myself, “why a cardiologist? I thought it was my lungs again?” Even if I was not convinced, I still heeded his advise and went to a cardiologist who asked me to undergo an echocardiogram (ECG) and some running test. The result? I have MVP or Mitral Valve Prolapse in my heart (to be specific it was in the Posterior Mitral Valve leaflet). I read again the results, I have MVP or Mitral Valve Prolapse. What again? MVP? Most Valuable Player? Like in basketball? Hehehe…. What is that? ano kamo? I must have been asleep or absent when that was taught in school because I cannot find it within the recesses of my stock knowledge. So I asked the cardiologist to please explain my condition. He said that I have a condition in my heart also known as “click murmur syndrome” and “Barlow’s syndrome”. This is the most common heart valve abnormality, affecting five to ten percent of the world population. I thought,” yeah right Doc, you are just saying that to pacify me.” So where did I contract it, where did I get it from? Is it a disease? An infection? He said “the Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) syndrome has a strong hereditary tendency, although the exact cause is unknown. It is seen most commonly in women from 20 to 40 years old, but also occurs in men”. By this time, I am already correlating data in my mind from my previous medical history and was wondering “My dextroscoliosis is idiopathic (meaning of unknown cause) and now another condition, MVP is also of unknown origin?” Again, the cardiologist said, there are no cure for it except if I went ahead and do surgery, which is not really necessary, he said. As it’s not really a cure. Since my MVP condition was a classic one because I have mitral regurgitation, he told me to not to stress myself too much especially physically and not to worry too much. There is no cure.
To make matters worse (or should I say better?), when I searched online about MVP complications, it includes in rare circumstances—cardiac arrest, usually resulting in sudden death. Ahhh, at least a prayer of mine has been answered because I asked the Lord not to make my death long and hard. Hehehe…..anyway, I just kept on praying and hoping for the best. You may feel that it’s morbid to think about death, but actually it’s more unhealthy to live in denial of death and what will inevitably happen in the future. We need to think more of eternity, not less.
In 2007, I was also diagnosed to have endometrial polyp and intramural myoma (both are said to be abnormal growths) to which the gynecologist told me the only solution are two ways: conceive a baby or undergo sugery. Again, both of these do not promise that it will not grow again. By this time, I am already aware of some alternative and complementary therapies so I sought the help of one Meetup member who is a doctor but also into complementary medicine. No other than Dra. Naomi. She explained to me that my condition was very easy to cure. She gave me a lifestyle check including food: what to eat and what not to eat. That time I was still eating red meat but slowly getting off of it. So, I decided to take her advise seriously.
You know, when you are faced with death on your face, you get to evaluate you life and your lifestyle. I was then reminded by God to cling to him. I remember the time that God and I made a pact, this was a long time ago that once I get to accomplish what He (God) has entrusted me to do on Earth (whatever that is) I am free to go. He is free to take me home. Since the time that I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I do not fear death. My only request to God was: I do not like to suffer- it should not be a violent death or a long hard death. But, we do not get to choose when and where our birth and death will be. All we can do is ask God to grant our prayers. Well, after being given the advise from the doctor that they cannot do anything and there is no real cure for my condition (again). This time, I decided to undergo surgery but I have to give other ways a try. “If these trials (the complementary therapies) will not work after three months, I will go under the knife” I said to msyself.
During that time, I have gotten into self-reflection. It’s ironic because I only slow down when I am faced with life threatening illness or danger or physical ailment. Ewan ko ba lagi akong parang nagmamadali…hahaha….kahit sa mall my sister would always remind me ano ka ba ateng? we need to stroll and walk not pace fast. Most of the time naman, I get so caught up with work and other things to do that I am always in a hurry. At other times, I forget eating because I am so engrossed with work. Yes, at times for the whole day when I have an activity, dinner na ako makakakain. I was also reminded by God to slow down. As I read Psalms 46:10, it said, “be still and know that I am God”. Ouch! There I am again noh? Being reminded by God to take things slow and not to forget Him even in our daily lives not only on Sundays. During those times, as we were also talking with Dra. Naomi she said that prayer is also very powerful and there were scientific researches which showed that whenever you pray for something especially food that you are about to take, it energizes the molecules of food thereby giving you more boost and healing along the way. So I also started a prayer vigil for my healing. After three months of extensive health diet and lifestyle conditioning- and boy! It’s hard….really hard because I have to have the discipline to really eat only this much, eat only this, do only this and not do that. My body was complaining because it is not used to a “really” healthy lifestyle and when I started out this new lifestyle, my diet was all raw and vegan. As if I have cancer. I ate raw food and a lot of seaweeds! Only fruits for a start and vegetables but nothing with face on it. Eh di siyempre, yung katawan ko manghihina the first few days pa lang. I was trembling because of hunger as I was used to carbohydrate based food. But after I got my system in check, detoxified myself, a week thereafter, my body started to move in directions that my mind wants it to go. Since then I have not indulged in red meat particulary pork- sabi nga nila naging muslim na daw ako. But then again, come to think of it, they have a point not to eat pork because it’s really not healthy, it poisons our body. Pork is very hard to digest and assimilate. So, after three months, to be able to finally confirm if my new lifestyle was effective, I have to go back to my gynecologist and have myself checked again. This time, during the ultrasound while the gynecologist was looking for the myoma- she was saying, “bakit nawala? Anong ginawa mo?” after an extensive search, the gynecologist gave up and said “nothing” and my results where normal. Thank God. It was a miracle. God used Meetup for me to meet people like Dr. Naomi, encouragements and prayers from my friends, family and Ted, diet and lifestyle to heal me.
But my story will not end here, remember I have dextroscoliosis and the doctor said also there is no cure? I went to this fire and heat therapy (one of the indigenous therapies that we went to for our Meetups) and had three (I think) sessions with Tatay Tony and to my surpise, my backaches have really diminished. For this, I would like to thank Mr. Ramon Tan, the owner of Carica who introduced me to Tatay Tony when he found out that I have scoliosis. To this day, I have not had too much pain on my back not unlike before. This was one of our photos:
Last but not the least, just last month February 24, 2010, I was diagnosed to have nodules and cysts on my mammary glands (in short breasts). Yes, cysts and nodules not just one but four on each sides. Ano ba yan? Ang dami naman tumutubo sa akin? Hehehe……puro pa naman idiopathic……unknown cause. But again, when I was about to undergo aspiration biopsy the surgeon told me to come back again after a month if I felt something abnormal if not I can come back in April for a mammography, just to be sure.
So why am I sharing to you all of these? One, because having to face the reality of death several times, we get to evaluate our lives more than anything else. Life is short. As James 4:14b said, “Our life is like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. Life is not all about career or money and how far we have reached in our fields. Although these are important, these are not permanent. We have to ask ourselves, if God chooses to take me right now, am I prepared? Have we done God’s purpose for our lives? Have we glorified God through our skills, our talents and our abilities? Life is not just a matter of going up the ladder of success in the world’s standards. It is what we have done that impacts eternity and how do we prepare for eternity? Go on a one on one talk with God. Pray. It works. We have to ask God to forgive us and let Him come into our lives and offer our lives to Him as he has given His life for us. When you are in your dying moments, I do not think I will hear you say “bring me my diplomas, I want to look at them one more time or bring me my medals and trophies, my awards and the jewelries that were given to me”. When life on Earth is ending, we do not want to be surrrounded by objects but with people. People we love and cherish. So whenever we wake up everyday should be to make sure that we spend time loving God by loving other people and using whatever talents or skills He has given us to share it with everyone. Do not waste today’s blessings by keeping it with yourself. Give God and people a time and chance into your life.
Two, because whatever our journey is in this field, we all have stories to tell, we have experiences to share and kindness to show. You have something to share, something to contribute and no one in this world is as unique as you. You are created to do more than exist. You are wonderfully made. You are placed on this earth to add more love, give more of ourselves, to add more understanding, more forgiveness and we can do that with our work, our career, our talents, our skills and our abilities. Our money, our career, our life- will come to an end but what we have done for the sake of God will reflect until eternity.
As Russel Kelfer’s poem amptly states:
You are who you are for a reason.
You’re part of an intricate plan.
You’re a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God’s special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You’re just what he wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom designed with God’s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master’s seal.
No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you’d grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!
Do not just spend your life trying to create success financially and in your career or trying to create a legacy on Earth. It’s not at all bad to want to be remembered when you are gone but ultimately what matters most will not be what others say about your life but what God would say about yours. Realize that all these acheivements will be surpasses by others in the future, records will be broken, reputations fade and tributes forgotten. Do not just live for an Earthly legacy because there is much more than what we see on Earth.
I pray that God will touch you in whatever situation you are right now. Be it in health or in sickness, in success or defeat, up or down- we need God. I also hope that you will come to realize that no religion, no amount of good works will ever replace God’s love for us. He is just a prayer away, He is just waiting for us to come to him and talk to Him with our hearts. All we need to do is ask to come into our lives. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened (James 11:9-10)”.
Do not waste your time, ask God now.